We left San Sebastián heading west with our sights set on a little medieval village called Santillana del Mar.
As Rick Steve’s mentions in his book, there is an old saying that this is the town of three lies, since it is neither a Saint (Santo), nor flat (llana) and has no sea (Mar) as implied by the town's name. However, the name actually derives from Santa Juliana (or Santa Illana) whose remains are in the kept in the Colegiata, a Romanesque church and former Benedictine monastery.
Our time here was limited and after only one night we pushed on to Segovia, which would be our last stop before returning to Madrid.
Segovia is so charming! You’ll find twisting alleyways, the highest concentration of Romanesque churches in all of Europe, pedestrian streets where no cars are allowed, the aroma of roast suckling pig around every corner - all surrounded by the city's medieval wall which itself is bordered by two rivers and an extensive green-belt park. On the north-west extreme of the wall is the famous Alcázar castle, source of inspiration to Walt Disney, and where Queen Isabel promised Columbus the financial backing he needed to discover America. On the south-east extreme is the world renowned Roman Aqueduct, the largest and best preserved of its kind anywhere.
Side note: Gin is in! I don’t know why this caught me off guard. A hearty supply and variety is available in each region, and especially in Segovia. Some establishments will even do an elaborate table-side service for a gin and tonic that rivals bananas foster.
Upon returning to Madrid for our last day of frolic, Elizabeth and I had discovered an underground Arabic Bath house that was the most perfect way to cap off our whirlwind trip. Three pools for soaking, a steam room, waterfalls, flickering candles, and massages from hot Spaniard men. We both left wondering why we hadn’t started our travels with the same tlc. Ahem.
Now that I am back on the other side of the pond, I am left with innumerable memories that will serve me both personally and professionally. Until the next adventure…
“Voyage, travel, and change of place impart vigor.” - Seneca, 1st Century philosopher